Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Puzzle of Foreign Intervention

Michael Byers' simplistic views on foreign intervention rears its head again

Running in the 2008 federal election as a foreign policy expert for a party that continues to hold ambitions of governing Canada, there's little question that Michael Byers has ambitions of being Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs.

It's in the revelation of these ambitions that Byers' simplistic views on foreign policy become so alarming.

In an article published in the Winnipeg Sun, Byers speaks about the issue of Piracy in Somalia, insisting that the end of humanitarian efforts in Somalia has led to a desperate situation which contributes to the increases in piracy.

"The Somali people are desperate for survival, plus they have a vendetta against the developed world which sails off the country's waters and seems to have ignored for too long the problems of the disadvantaged country, leaving millions to their fate and premature deaths," says Byers.

"Partly it's symptomatic of failed states and lawless coastal zones that exist in some parts of the world, and in part the failure of political will on the part of western states to expend the resources and sometimes the military personnel necessary to do the hard work of rebuilding hard states," he continues. "When we abandon countries like Somalia, we will eventually pay a price."

Byers' words tend to ring rather hollow when one considers that he's one of many activists who insists that the western world should abandon Afghanistan, equally a case study in the international peril of ceding state to regimes that foment internal instability and don't respect international law.

But even beyond that, Byers seems to overlook the devil in the details.

For one thing, the humanitarian mission in Somalia had a troubled history. This in part began when the Red Cross refused military escorts in Somalia.

The vulnerability of aid organizations in Somalia has led to a history of them being treated as easy targets by armed bandits in the country. Both the Red Cross and Red Crescent have been the subject of attack in Somalia.

Clearly aid organizations cannot operate in Somalia without armed protection. Somalia was the first example of such a dangerous operation, one that has led to the more muscular and aggressive peacekeeping model and has led to the demise of the Pearsonian model of peacekeeping -- a demise that has left many individuals like Byers evidently confused.

Those familiar with the Somalia peacekeeping mission are well aware that a United States-led, UN-sanctioned task force had to first forcibly establish peace in Somalia before a peacekeeping mission could really begin. When American forces were ambushed in Mogadishu it became obvious that the peace was fragile at best.

The general security environment in Somalia has even led to organizations like the Red Cross rearming, carrying their own armed security with them -- in a war zone this is an act that certainly carries the risk of being mistaken for combatants.

In order for aid missions to be able to safely operate in countries like Somalia requires a muscular and aggressive peacemaking mission to subdue beligerents and enforce peace through armed force afteward. This is precisely the kind of mission that "peace" activists like Michael Byers -- who have demonstrated an awfully bizarre notion of what peace is and is not -- have tended to oppose in recent years.

If Michael Byers expects aid missions in countries like Somalia to continue, he must support providing a safe environment for those missions to operate. By necessity, this means that Byers will have to re-think his attitudes on foreign intervention, and the ideology he has allowed to dominantly influence them.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:30 AM

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